In the wake of the Elliot Rodgers shooting and the subsequent #yesallwomen campaign, violence against women has been in the forefront of the news. The Washington Post jumped into the mix with two troubling articles commenting on violence against women.
Earlier this week, arch-conservative George Will released a column accusing universities of overreacting to on-campus rape and sexual assault. Recent events have finally brought about a broader campus conversation about consent and the lasting impact of sexual assault on victims’ lives. Will dismisses the issue, mocking things like trigger warnings, and even goes as far as to make fun of a student’s rape story.
He claims that a well established statistic – one in five women are sexually assaulted while in college – can’t be accurate and has simply arisen from repetition. Bear in mind this is coming from the man who mocks the idea that rape is anything less than forcible penetration. He suggests that sexual assault victims attain a “coveted status that confers privileges.” What privileges is Will referring to? Statements like this trivialize sexual assault. Wrongheaded statements like Will’s reduce the likelihood of victims reporting sexual assault, when it’s already vastly underreported.
Following George Will’s column came another article by authors W. Bradford Wilcox and Robin Fretwell Wilson entitled “One way to end violence against women? Married dads.” The sensationalistic sub-heading “The data show that #yesallwomen would be safer with fewer boyfriends around their kids.” Wilcox and Wilson contend that women and girls are safer from domestic abuse in married families.
The authors causally mention that one third of domestic violence victims are married to their abuser, but such a statistic hardly makes a compelling case that marriage prevents abuse or violence against women. This article incorrectly puts the responsibility for domestic abuse in the hand of the victims, not the abusers. It sends the message that women can prevent domestic violence by marrying a protective mate instead of holding abusers accountable.
Washington Post, you’re out of touch. This is this the 21st century you’re writing about. Now is the time we should be talking about what it means to give real and meaningful consent. Furthermore, a woman is not responsible for her own abuse. Gone are the days where a women needs a knight in shining armor to feel safe.